Adherents of libertarian philosophies enjoy wide-spread popularity these days. Their views coincide generally with American ideals. Patrick Henry summed up his animus against the British crown in 1775 by saying, "Give me liberty or give me death." America's schoolchildren conclude each pledge to the flag with the words, "With liberty and justice for all."
As much as Americans idealize liberty, they seldom offer a realistic definition of the word, which means many things to different people. So Rand Paul, a self-identifying libertarian, has stated that liberty means the freedom to refuse service to African Americans at lunch counters and hotels. This comment has endeared him to the crypto-racists of the Republican heartland. I call them crypto-racists because they refuse to admit their own obvious racism and steadfastly maintain, contrary to all available evidence, that white racism no longer exists.
Rand Paul's extreme views place him in the forefront of Republican presidential hopefuls, largely because billionaire David Koch is an ardent libertarian. Koch is likely to spend $100 million or more of his vast fortune to insure the election of a libertarian Republican president. For David and his brother Charles, liberty means the freedom to pollute the environment and endanger the future of the planet by denying the influence of humans—especially himself—on global warming.
Paul Ryan, another Republican politician with libertarian ideals, has attacked the federal government for giving lunch money to disadvantaged children. He says this practice feeds their bodies but starves their souls. The soul, however, cannot be separated from the body except by death. Whatever benefit a child may gain from refusing a subsidized lunch will be destroyed by malnutrition and ultimate starvation.
Here the philosophy of libertarianism jumps the tracks and starts gnawing at the roots of our democracy. Ryan is apparently applying the views of Patrick Henry, since he unequivocally states that a child would be better off dead than enslaved by free food from the government. Ryan does not betray an iota of satire here, as did Jonathan Swift when he proposed a similar solution to the problem of poverty. He is deadly serious when he advocates helping poor children by refusing them food.
Wealthy businessmen have been the core of Republican power since the party's inception. Their philosophy has always been that whatever is good for business is good for the USA. The Kochs have added a new wrinkle to this self-serving attitude, for they maintain that whatever is good for the Kochs is good for the world. They express this belief repeatedly, by their public pronouncements and their secret donations to organizations and candidates that happily envisage the death of civilization rather than pay an extra dime to protect the environment.